National Geographic’s Traveler magazine has rated 133 travel destinations for sustainability. In the sixth annual survey, 437 panelists evaluated tourism spots around the globe taking into consideration “a mix of what local governments, residents, and businesses can controlâ€”pollution, cultural quality and authenticity, tourism managementâ€”and what they can’t, such as natural disasters and global economic meltdowns”.Â The top sustainable destination for 2009 was once again the Norwegian Fjords, which also topped the list when the first survey was conducted in 2003, based on “authenticity and stewardship”.
What makes Norway’s fjords so special?Â National Geographic‘s experts gave it a score of 85.
Environmental quality is at the highest level. Landscape is amazing and aesthetically one of the most beautiful. The icons of Norway are so unique that it is difficult to imagine anything else. The local culture can be seen on the shores and mountains. It gives an ideal overview of well-preserved Norwegian rural life.
The fjords region of western Norway includes:Â MÃ¸re & Romsdal, Sogn & Fjordane, Hordaland and Rogaland. A fjord is a “long, narrow inlet with steep sides, created in a valley carved by glacial activity”.Â Norway’s fjords are deeper than the adjoining Norwegian Sea.Â Sognefjord is the second longest (205 km/127 mi) and the second deepest fjord in the world (1,308 m/4,291 ft).
Unfortunately, Norway’s fjords are also plagued by environmental degradation from “progress”.Â Sognefjord is crossed by the world’s second longest power line span, and a new transmission line is proposed from SunnmÃ¸re and Sogn.Â This powerline would span one ofÂ the “few remaining untouch fjords”.
A power line west of the UNESCO World Heritage site at Geiranger Fjord is now licensing process of the Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate (NVE). The line is one of two options to carry electricity through SunnmÃ¸re and Sogn. The second option is also controversial, and implies that the line will cross the four fjords.
Despite lengthy powerlines, Norway’s fjords fared much better than the United States’ Great Smoky Mountains in National Geographic’s rankings. This national park fit the “Places with Troubles” category and was called “a national treasure surrounded by a bathtub ring of ugly, unplanned development.”